EU, US Consumer Groups Issue Resolution On Enforcement; Demand Role In ACTAPublished on 23 June 2009 @ 11:23 am
An international coalition of consumer groups has issued a resolution calling into question global enforcement policy and offering core principles for policymakers to consider in setting new enforcement standards.
The Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue on 18 June issued the resolution on the enforcement of copyright, trademarks, patents and other intellectual property rights. The TACD is a trade advisory body to the European Union and United States government, and brings together 80 member organisations from those regions, claiming a direct paid-up membership of some 20 million consumers.
The resolution calls for a halt to the plurilateral negotiation of an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) led by the United States, until the negotiating texts are made available to consumer groups and other conditions are met.
TACD wants future negotiations to be respectful of civil liberties such as the right to privacy and also demands the inclusion of developing countries in ACTA negotiations as the stated intention is to extend and apply the treaty to them. The resolution offers recommendations to ensure IP enforcement policies and practices address issues such as transparency, evidence and process, competitiveness, consumer protection, human rights, access to knowledge, and digital rights.
The resolution reflects discussions TACD had with representatives from the EU and the US government on 9 June, during the TACD 10th annual meeting in Brussels (IPW, Enforcement, 11 June 2009). But the resolution was released for the first time on 18 June and forms part of a larger effort by TACD to push back on the IP rights enforcement issues, according to consumer representatives.
The resolution comes at a time when governments in Europe and North America are considering a wide range of new global standards for IP enforcement. Among those new norms are ACTA, new customs procedures through the World Customs Organization (WCO), anti-counterfeiting measures at the World Health Organization (WHO), World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes over enforcement, and proposals in Europe for “graduated response” penalties and other internet filtering solutions. It also includes EU directives and bills pending before the US Congress and other countries to further strengthen IP enforcement, bilateral trade agreements, and unilateral trade sanctions by the EU and the US.
“All those with an interest in public health need to be very worried about the intellectual property enforcement agenda,” Sophie Bloemen of Health Action International (HAI), a TACD member, said in a statement along with 10 other groups. “Some of the enforcement initiatives developed under the guise of ‘anti-counterfeiting’ moves will in reality hamper the legitimate trade in generics and as a result pose a serious threat to access to essential medicines in developing countries.”
“The global push by incumbent multinational corporations for lopsided regulation to protect their business models negotiated behind closed doors is undermining public confidence in the important fight to protect consumers against counterfeiting and piracy,” said Eddan Katz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), another TACD member. “We call for responsible policymaking on IP enforcement based on empirical evidence and meaningful public debate, especially at this pivotal moment of technological innovation. The future of the knowledge economy for the benefit of many rather than the few is what is at stake in the wrong direction now taken by our trade negotiators.”
According to Anne-Catherine Lorrain of the TACD secretariat, the organisation will be scheduling meetings with various US and EU agencies, EU members of parliament and US congressional members to follow up on the resolution recommendations.
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